Episode 81: “Oh! The Memories of Mother”
Original airdate: August 17, 1983
Corresponding manga chapters: “Trickling Memories!?” and “Memory Album”, volume 17, chapters 8-9 (Japanese tankobon release)/overall chapters 176-177
Minor character(s) introduced: Multiple fictitious versions of Mrs. Fujinami
Summary: In a 24-hour convenience store, Ryuunosuke (wearing a pair of extremely tight jeans that should leave no doubt as to her gender) shops for instant ramen. Leaving, she sees Ten hanging from a tree branch by his diaper, and three kids with a baseball bat poking at him like a piñata. She runs over to stop them, but before she can say anything, their mother (who has three more children on her bicycle) calls them out for not staying home to watch their two other siblings. Ryuunosuke is momentarily thoughtful, then looks up to see Ten still hanging there.
Arriving at Casa Moroboshi, she drops off Ten, expertly ducking to avoid a hurtling Ataru. Mrs. Moroboshi invites her to dinner, where she profusely compliments the cooking (even though Ataru jokes about it being boil-in-the-bag fare), in comparison to her father’s disgusting ramen-in-bulk. This touches Mrs. Moroboshi’s maternal heart, and she plies Ryuu with more food (including her husband’s serving).
Back at the school store that evening, Ryuunosuke asks her father to tell her about her mother. He tries to deflect her, noting that her mother died when she was very young, and she gets upset that he’s never once talked about her. Her mood rapidly changes when she sees that his back is turned because he’s eating a bun. Some furniture gets thrown before her father launches into reminiscence mode.
When he was 15, he met his first love, the daughter of a rich conglomerate, until one day she left without a word. That’s it.
Ryuu gives him a dresser to the head, and he launches into a story of his time training in China when he was 18. This story is a mashup of several centuries’ worth of history that ends with brave youths sailing off to Iskandar. There, on the Titanic, he met a beautiful young nurse, Yukie, and after the ship struck an iceberg they washed up in Florida and opened a branch of Hamajaya there. A year later, a baby boy (Ryuunosuke, though she strenuously denies it) was born. However, when an earthquake in Chile creates huge waves, Yoko couldn’t deny her professional surfer calling, and was defeated. On her deathbed, Kayoko, who had always been sickly, asked her husband to let Ryuunosuke grow up to be a strong man.
This time Ryuunosuke hits him with the TV. He remarks that boys never forget their mothers, and then things get weird.
She knocks him through a window and runs off into the night, where she runs into Ataru, Lum, and Mrs. Moroboshi, who are walking to the public baths. She tearfully runs over and buries her face in Mrs. Moroboshi’s bosom. Later, at a park, Ryuunosuke, Ataru and Lum talk about Ryuu’s mother. Ryuunosuke speculates about what she looked like, and her father pops up in his face, to which she responds by pushing back on the swing and jumping on his face. Her father turns serious, saying that it’s hard for him to remember his lost wife, but when she goes over to apologize, it turns out he’s eating another bun. This gets him a punch in face, and a few days later, Ryuunosuke sees something on TV that gives the lie to the whole story:
Hey, new eyecatch!
Ryuunosuke sits in a strange underwater room, when she sees a beautiful woman crying on a nearby platform. She swims over to check on her; the woman asks why she doesn’t recognize her, but when Ryuunosuke asks if she’s her mother, she pulls her hands away to reveal Mr. Fujinami’s face. She wakes up in horror, and is annoyed to see her father is sleeping peacefully. She’s about to smash him with the dresser when he mutters “Masako…” and begs her not to leave. She’s touched by him dreaming about her mother, and goes to tuck him in. He throws his arms around her and yells “Masako!” and she has to knock him away several times, then run through the school corridors and onto the grounds with him close behind her.
Fortunately, before this can turn into “Donkeyskin”, she knocks him out in the gym with a large weight. Explaining the story in class, Ataru speculates that Ryuunosuke must resemble her mother. She agrees it’s a possibility, since she doesn’t look like her father. Lum asks if she has a photo album at home, but she can’t remember seeing one. They go into the school store, where her father is looking through a photo album, and start searching, with no luck. Spotting the album her father’s holding, she snatches it away, but discovers that all the pictures are of him.
Ryuu demands to know if there’s an album with pictures of her mother. He says there is, and walks off without elaborating. She shadows him around the store, finally corralling him and demanding to see it. He says she’ll regret it, but flips up a tatami mat to reveal an album labelled “My Wife and I”. She’s reluctant to open it at first, fearing that her mother could be some sort of weirdo freak (since who else would marry her father?). However, opening it, she sees a photo of her as a baby, with her father and a pretty woman.
She’s excited, until she looks at the other photos:
Her father says that one of them is her real mother, but since he felt bad about her not having a mother he had the female guests at Hamajaya play with her (including the cast of Maison Ikkoku, apparently), and now he can’t remember which one is Masako. We cut to the exterior of the Moroboshi house, and to the TV, where her father is on the same TV show begging her to come home. Watching from the Moroboshi’s living room, Ryuunosuke remarks that she’ll be staying over for a few more days.
Changes from the manga version: In the first segment, Mr. Fujinami’s story isn’t as involved (and the convenience store isn’t full of inside jokes about the animators). In the second segment, the chase is shorter (lengthy chase=filler). They’re otherwise quite close.
Thoughts: A good Ryuunosuke-centric episode (something the animators didn’t always do well). After the ending of last episode, there are moments where it looks like this one is turning serious, but in this case that heightens the effect when it turns ridiculous. Interestingly, even bits that feel like they might have come from the animators (like Ryuunosuke’s dream) are from the manga–there are no scenes that are wholly unique to the anime.
This is one of the episodes that makes it clear that Ryuu is an early predecessor of Ranma 1/2 even without the gender material. Her relationship with her father has a lot in common with Ranma’s, and then there’s her character design:
Compared to the other characters, she has a rounder and squatter face, and the heavy bangs increase the apparent width of her head relative to its height. Takahashi’s style and character designs don’t change that much over the decades, but Ryuu definitely wouldn’t look out of place among the Ranma cast.
Next episode: Sand duplicates of Sakura on the beach!